Wood thought to be too brittle to be used for anything has been transformed into significant faith symbols at the 219th General Assembly (2010) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) here, thanks to a partnership between a commissioned lay pastor (CLP) from Tower, Minn., and a couple in North Carolina.
William (Bill) Evans, CLP at St. James Presbyterian Church in Tower, has supplied 30,000 small wooden crosses made from “deadheads” — long-sunken logs that have floated back to the surface of some of Minnesota’s fabled 10,000 lakes — as gifts from the three sponsoring presbyteries to those attending the Assembly.
Cynthia Bolbach, newly elected moderator of the 219th General Assembly, will receive a gavel and strike plate made from the “deadhead” lumber. The gavel and strike plate will be mounted on a walnut plaque.
Outgoing Moderator Bruce Reyes-Chow and Vice-moderator Byron Wade will receive 6- to 8-inch table crosses made from “deadhead” lumber.
Rod McPeak, an elder at St. James Church, crafted the gavel and strike plate, and Ron Muster, an elder at the same church, created the mounting plaque. Muster also made the cross and base for the table crosses.
Donetta Wickstrom, a member of the Committee on Local Arrangements for the Assembly, supplied agate for both the table crosses and gavel plaque. The St. James congregation gived the engraved brass name plates.
Evans described the history of the “deadheads”: “In the late 1800s and early 1900s northeastern Minnesota’s main industry was lumber. Many of the local lakes were used as a way to transport logs to the mills. Some of the logs became water logged and sank to the bottom of the lakes.”
Now, after about 100 years or more, some of the logs are floating to the surface. Evans continued, “These logs are known as ‘deadheads’ because only one end of the log is visible and they are a great hazard to watercraft.”
Evans, who was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa, worked for Deere & Co. for 29 years, took early retirement and ran his own consulting business for six years, concentrating on team building, trust and conflict resolution. He and his wife, Sherry, moved to Ely, Minn., where they had owned a vacation home for 10 years.
In 2004, after two years of training, the Presbytery of Northern Waters, one of the hosts of this year’s General Assembly, commissioned Evans to serve St. James.
While liiving on Garden Lake, near Ely, Evans pulled nine of the “deadheads” from the lake but he was told “the wood was useless because all its strength was gone. The wood was brittle and could not be used.”
One day Evans received an email from Dennis Adams in North Carolina. Adams and his wife, Joan, make small wooden crosses and offer them to churches for vacation Bible school, Sunday school and other church events. Evans told Adams about the “deadheads.” Adams was “excited, to say the least,” Evans said.
The connection sparked the creation of Second Chance Crosses — the “deadheads,” just like Christians, get a second chance.
Evans has sent Adams almost 1,000 pounds of wood in return for the 30,000 Second Chance Crosses. They range in height from a little more than 1 inch to about 2 inches.
Second Chance Crosses are available in a variety of forms, including a key chain, a key ring, a zipper pull, a penny cross, a “cross in my pocket,” a youth necklace, a small adult necklace and a large adult necklace with leather lanyard. There’s also a “travel mercy” cross that can be hung from the rear view mirror of a vehicle.
There is no charge for the crosses, Evans noted, but donations are accepted to help the ministry.
Second Chance Crosses is online at http://www.2ndchancecrosses.com and can also be contacted through the mail at Box 432, Tower, MN 55790.